AN experienced and hardened Western Australia team has headed to Adelaide to take on South Australia at Glenelg's Gliderol Stadium on Saturday aiming for a first win across the border in almost 20 years.
The WA team will feature 12 State debutants including captain Craig Wulff, Kyle Hams, Paul Medhurst, Garry Moss, Andrew Stephen, Mark Hutchings, Matt Riggio, Dan Hunt, Trinity Handley, Brad Holmes, Callum Sinclair and Paul Johnson.
Overall in matches between the two states, WA narrowly leads 46 to 45 after the 91 clashes.
In Adelaide, though, the Croweaters have won 29 of 36 meetings with WA. The last time the Sandgropers won across the border was in a State of Origin clash in 1994 at AAMI Stadium. Last time in a State game in Adelaide was in 1986 also at the formerly named Football Park.
This will be the first State game played at the Glenelg ground with WA heading over confident after beating South Australia in the last meeting between the two states at Perth's Medibank Stadium by a solitary point in 2009.
That thrilling win for WA was its first win over South Australia since 1994 and the last two meetings in Adelaide have seen the Sandgropers put in competitive, but ultimately fruitless, showings.
In 2003, South Australia won by 42 points and then it was a tight affair under lights at Adelaide Oval in 2006 but the Croweaters again prevailed by 17 points.
Since beating South Australia by that point in 2009, WA went down to Victoria at Medibank Stadium the next year by 55 points before holding on in 2011 in a tight finish against Queensland to win by a goal at Mandurah's Bendigo Bank Stadium.
This will be the first time the Black Swans have ventured interstate since a 73-point win over Queensland in Townsville in 2008.
The preparation this time around has been much different with just the one training session last Wednesday ahead of the preparations this week that sees the team train together twice before flying to Adelaide on Friday morning.
Waterman has been involved plenty as a player and coach in State games as he prepares for his third appearance in charge after a narrow loss to Victoria in 2004 and big win in Queensland the next year. He is confident the preparations for this year will work.
"I've done five weeks or four weeks with the State team before and it drags on and can diminish what you are doing with your own club," Waterman said.
"On the other hand, I've played against a State team that were put together in two weeks and they brained us. It will be a pretty senior team so there won't be much to get through."
With the Glenelg ground being smaller and with South Australia also to go with an experienced and physically strong team, Waterman has gone with some hardened bodies in the WA line-up.
One of those is 190-game East Perth veteran Craig Wulff who has been in outstanding in-and-under form with the Royals winning the hard ball and also being dominant at clearances. He will make his debut for WA as will his East Perth teammates Paul Johnson and Garry Moss.
Johnson, the former West Coast, Melbourne and Hawthorn big man, has been the dominant ruckman in the competition and will lead the way in that department for the Sandgropers.
Moss has also been tremendous finding football in the middle and then using it in damaging fashion on his left boot.
Also in the midfield for Johnson to try and get the ball down to will be Claremont's reigning Sandover Medallist Luke Blackwell, Swan Districts' co-captain Josh Roberts and his teammate Matt Riggio, and West Perth star Mark Hutchings.
Claremont's Kane Mitchell and South Fremantle's Ryan Cook will be among the players to provide plenty of run and drive through the middle also.
The defence will be held together by Subiaco's Aidan Parker (who will play his fifth State game), West Perth pair Dion Fleay and Dan Hunt, and East Fremantle's Steven Dodd.
Swan Districts' Kyle Hams and East Fremantle's Andrew Stephen will make their debuts as small defenders with Graham Jetta to help out with his second appearance for WA.
Josh Smith has been the dominant forward in the competition so far this season and with his strong presence and marking ability he will spearhead the WA attack with help from Brad Holmes, Paul Medhurst, Callum Sinclair and Ian Richardson.
Then there will be the most versatile player in the competition who will be able to help out anywhere. Claremont's Trinity Handley has played 154 games with the Tigers now and has the ability to play as a defender, forward, midfielder or even pinch-hitting ruckman.
The South Australian team will be captained by six-time premiership player from Central District Paul Thomas. It will include the likes of Robert Shirley, Jeremy Clayton, Eddie Sansbury, Chris Schmidt, Craig Parry, Nick Liddle, Ben Nason and James Meiklejohn.
SA v WA
Gliderol Stadium (Glenelg)
Saturday 2.10pm (SA time)
TV: ABC TV
Radio: SportFM 91.3fm
LIKELY WA LINE-UP
B: Andrew Stephen (East Fremantle), Dan Hunt (West Perth), Kyle Hams (Swan Districts)
HB: Steven Dodd (East Fremantle), Aidan Parker (Subiaco), Dion Fleay (West Perth)
C: Kane Mitchell (Claremont), Josh Roberts (Swan Districts), Ryan Cook (South Fremantle)
HF: Paul Medhurst (Claremont), Callum Sinclair (Subiaco), Mark Hutchings (West Perth)
F: Brad Holmes (Peel Thunder), Josh Smith (East Perth), Ian Richardson (Claremont)
R: Paul Johnson (East Perth) Luke Blackwell (Claremont), Craig Wulff (East Perth)
INT: Garry Moss (East Perth), Matt Riggio (Swan Districts), Graham Jetta (Swan Districts), Trinity Handley (Claremont).
EMG: Tom Lee (Claremont).
F: Gray, Kirkby, Clayton
HF: Jericho, Grocke, Sansbury
C: Ryswyk, Schmidt, Batsanis
HB: Jarrad, Collier, Thomas (c)
B: Caire, Grieger, Rudolph
R: Parry, Boyd, Liddle
INT: Meiklejohn, Shirley, Webber, Schiller, Nason, Georgiou
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